Last week was not a real episode, but a languid hour in which to read the chefs’ genealogy binders. And we did, and I cried, and maybe you did too, and suddenly here we all are again, in the Bahamas! Everyone showed up at the vacation destination looking awkward in their summer gear. Tiffany had things on her legs that were neither pants nor capris, but something in between. Blais wore a top he most certainly bought off the internet, titled “informal T-shirt.” There is no way he doesn’t sleep and bathe in his chef coat. He told Carla and Antonia that his daughter is going to be called “Embry Lotus.” This seems like the kind of name that’s supposed to make people feel uncomfortable, and the ladies duly made an uncomfortable sound of approval.
Inside the Top Chef Fort, the chefs found old enemies. Poised menacingly behind cooking stations were the winners of each of the All-Stars’ seasons: Stephanie, Hosea, Michael and Kevin. Padma stood above, her hair swaying realistically in the breeze. She explained the Quickfire Challenge: the five would go against his or her nemesis for a $10,000 prize, using a secret main ingredient Colicchio had hidden earlier at each station. “Cook with your hearts,” Chef Eric Ripert commanded.
As the cooking played out, we were treated to a round of confessionals with the returning Top Chefs. I think we were supposed to worry for them, and if so, I failed. Hosea wanted to win the Quickfire against Carla to prove something to “the haters.” Why is he still thinking about them? He’s won the title and it’s over now. Make yourself a drink Hosea! Relax, kick back, enjoy all that money you scored. Other past winner Stephanie was the only one to face two competitors, which meant she stood to win $20,000 from a single dish, instead of $10,000 like everyone else. Most people would call this a stroke of luck, but she called it “luck,” the sarcastic version. “Lucky me,” she said, waving her hands and rolling her eyes. I found myself thinking that an All-Star would never do that. I mean, they might. But in the face of the impostor contestants I loved the All-Stars unreasonably.
The judges picked Tiffany’s pork stew over Kevin’s barbecue pork, which made beleaguered Tiffany super happy. She hugged Kevin, who pretended to be joyful. “Oh gosh, I needed that,” Tiffany said, slapping Kevin’s arm like there was an open wound there and she had salt in her hand. He smiled and squinted as if he was holding back tears. Either that or looking into the sun, a big guy like that. Definitely one of the two. Hosea beat Carla’s badly undercooked jolof rice and harissa lamb, which probably caused him some grief. Not a real win, that. Stephanie’s veal scallopini scraped past Antonia’s roasted veal (too dry), and lost to Blais’ seared loin and braised veal cap (too good). She still won $10,000! “Lucky” b****. The final face-off was Michael versus Mike, and since Michael is an angry genius and Mike is an angry monster, it seemed like it would go a certain way. But monsters are powerful. Mike’s cashew-dusted spiced duck breast beat Michael’s duck in bacon vinaigrette two to one.
NEXT: All hail the Junkanoo king!